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Is social media killing your job prospects?

You have followed all of the steps correctly: you’ve updated your resume, you custom wrote a cover letter for each job application, you modify key details in your resume to highlight your experience in relation to the job description, you follow-up to check on the status of the application and reiterate your interest in the position … but you’re still not getting an interview.

Could your social media account be to blame?

Could your social media account be to blame?

In a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 70% of employers reported they use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process. According to The Muse, a career website, 1 out of 3 employers will reject a candidate based on something they found in social profiles.

Such pre-interview reviews of social media aren’t restricted to LinkedIn, the “professional” social media site. Employers are routinely looking at Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and even Snapchat accounts in order to determine if you’re a good fit for the company from both a skills - and a company culture - perspective.

What should you look for in your social media accounts?

It should come as no surprise that social media references to illegal drugs or activity are a no-no. Some companies will look specifically for behavioral patterns, like promiscuity or sexually-suggestive comments, in addition to comments that show you’re continually late for events or activities.

Other comments or posts which could raise red flags for employers would be complaints about your current boss or co-workers, vulgar language, or photos which show you in a negative light (like partying too much or being destructive to property).

And in today’s inclusive employment environment, even negative or discriminatory comments about gender, sex, race or religion can cause problems as you seek a position.

But take heart – you don’t have to delete your accounts simply because you’re looking for a position. In fact, having interview-safe social media accounts helps prospective employers know more good things about you that aren’t included on your resume.

Clean up your social media

If you are concerned that your social media accounts might be negatively impacting your job search, there are some steps you can take.

  1. Clean up your social mediaFirst, make sure your professional accounts (like LinkedIn) are business-focused. Posts or pictures of conferences you attend, new developments in your field, special events in your city, or personal career accomplishments are great ways to show you know how to use social media and that you’re engaging in your field of work or industry.
  2. Second, review the settings on your personal social media accounts to ensure they are private, as opposed to public which means they can be seen by anyone searching for you. Most social media sites default posts to “public” but you can use the settings or privacy tab to allow only your friends or followers to see your posts.
  3. Third, take a look at how you can be tagged in a post or photo. Cover photos and profile pictures default to a public setting, but you can turn off the ability of your friends or followers to tag you in anything. Facebook has a setting that allows you to review each time someone tags you in any photo, status or comment. You can then decide if you want that post to include your name/identity tag or if you want it to appear on your timeline.
  4. Lastly, if you still have concerns about what might show up in a search of your social media accounts, Scrubber is a free website that will clean up your social media history. It can review all your social media posts and flag any that contain profanity, mention drugs or alcohol, or that contain custom keywords you list (like a boss or an ex). It won’t delete anything, but it will give you a report that you can use to locate anything that might be problematic for your job search.

You always need to be aware of new posts that you make ensure they reflect positively on you. But remember, you don’t need to hide your personality – just make sure your posts reflect the fun, smart and capable person that you really are.

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Topics: Preparing for an Interview, Social Media